News / Arts & Entertainment

Hollywood Celebrates 100th Birthday of Stanley Kramer

Hollywood Celebrates 100th Birthday of American Filmmakeri
X
September 11, 2013 2:11 PM
This month, Hollywood celebrates the 100th birthday of producer and director Stanley Kramer - who made controversial films and explored the unpopular topics of his time. Kramer not only challenged American society, he challenged powerful movie studios of the day by becoming an independent filmmaker. Kramer died more than 10 years ago, but his legacy and his films live on. Elizabeth Lee has this story for VOA from Los Angeles.
Hollywood Celebrates 100th Birthday of American Filmmaker
Elizabeth Lee
This month, Hollywood celebrates the 100th birthday of producer and director Stanley Kramer - who made controversial films and explored the unpopular topics of his time.  Kramer not only challenged American society, he challenged powerful movie studios of the day by becoming an independent filmmaker.  Kramer died more than 10 years ago, but his legacy and his films live on.

Stanley Kramer made movies that got people’s attention and, at times, made them angry. His wife, Karen Sharpe Kramer, remembers the opening night of the film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

“There were lines around the block, 15 blocks long," said his wife Karen Sharpe Kramer.

The film explores the issue of interracial marriage, a risky subject in the 1960s.
“Stanley and I both had a lot of hate mail, we were threatened in restaurants," she said. "We’d go to dinner and somebody would come to the table and say, "You’re that Mr. Kramer that made that film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Well you better watch your back Kramer, we don’t like it.'"

Jan-Christopher Horak directs UCLA's Film and Television Archive.
“The time that film was made, in 60 to 80 percent of the states in this country there were still laws on the books - it made you a criminal if you married interracially," said Horak.

Black actor Sidney Poitier starred in that film.

“He was a remarkable person and he was probably one of the most amazing filmmakers in America and we never had moments for anything but teaching each other. We learned from him occasionally, once in awhile he learned from us," said Poitier.

Kramer explored race relations even before Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, often in secret says Karen Sharpe Kramer, recalling how the film Home of the Brave was made.

“And he hid this wonderful African American actor James Edwards on the floorboard of his car going to and from work everyday," said Karen Sharpe Kramer.

Kramer addressed other controversial issues, for example the Holocaust in the movie Judgment At Nuremberg, a fictionalized account of the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal that prosecuted top Nazi leaders for genocide against Europe's Jews in World War II. At a time when the country was not discussing the Holocaust, this film shocked audiences.  
 
Kramer also directed Inherit the Wind, taking on another controversy, the teaching of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. The movie was based on the famous Scopes Monkey trial in which a school teacher in Kentucky was tried for teaching evolution and found guilty.

It was nominated for four Academy Awards but, UCLA's Horak says:

“He was criticized for focusing too much on messages you know, that his messages were a little too obvious that he was making films for the message instead of making a great film and have the message somehow kind of slip in along the side," he said.

Stanley Kramer retired in his 60s, but his films won 16 Oscars and their subject matter had an impact on how Americans think and act on issues still relevant today.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."